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“What is Shibari?” for Duckout! Magazine

A few month ago Sergio Mas, chief editor of Duckout! Magazine, contacted me about an article on shibari. He wanted an accurate description of what is shibari, together with pictures of my work. I told him that it would also be interesting to have the opinion of the “models” from these pictures, so we added an interview to the article. I met with my friends Pilar Aldea and Ana Sita, who I consider my “rope family” and together we put together the following text, that unfortunately got published under my name only.

What is Shibari?

Shibari is a japanese word that means literally “to tie”. The contemporary meaning of shibari refers to a sensual reinterpretation of the japanese hojojutsu, a form of restriction and torture of prisoners used between the 15th and 18th century. Today, from intimate play between couples to art exhibitions at big international festivals, japanese bondage has a growing number of followers and students as well in the west as the east. One explanation for the attraction and addictiveness that lies in this discipline can be found in the words of the master Haruki Yukimura: “The rope has the function to connect the emotions of the rigger and the model”. Because that is what shibari is about: the emotions that are created between the one who ties and the one who is tied. Other points of view are about the loss of control, the beauty of suffering, the aesthetics, the feeling of restriction or the participation of a third element: the spectator.

The trust and the connection created between rigger and model can become so intense that time and surroundings disappear. Inside this bubble lies the power of the ropes as an element that enhances the emotional communication.

The japanese artist Itoh Seiyu (1882-1961), with his paintings, prints and photographs, was the pioneer of the transformation from a restrictive technique to a discipline of erotic domination. In the 80s, the photographs of Nobuyoshi Araki (1940) made shibari known to a wider audience in the west, while in Japan it became popular in the 40s and 50s, when the magazine Kitan Club was specializing in BDSM and Shibari.

Learning to tie is accessible but not easy. Even though there is a big quantity of visual material available, much of it accurate, the only way to learn this discipline is hands on, by taking classes or workshops with experienced riggers. In most parts of the world there are Peer Ropes or Dojos with classes, workshops and regular meetings and exchanges of students and teachers. Places like Cophenaghen Shibari Dojo, Schwelle7 in Berlín, Melbourne Rope Dojo, La place des cordes in París, or the Madrig Peer Rope.

Together with technical rope handling and good emotional communication, security is indispeansable. Injuries are common especially among riggers and models without a proper rope education.

The times, when there were only Matthias Grimme and Osada Steve, who began to teach shibari in europe, are over. Now great japanese masters travel frequently to the west to give classes or exhibitions, like the recent visit of  Akira Naka in Madrid last November. He gave a performance together with the european model Gorgone as well as workshops and private classes. Also Hajime Kinoko visited the Nawa Kai in Gijón.

There are many possibilities to see shibari live on different international festivals like theLondon Festival of Rope Art, the Moscow Knot, the Kinbaku Cabaret in Strasbourg, the Toubaku in Tokyo or ShibariCon thet takes place in Chicago this year.

You can read more about this here, written by Hakumei: ¿Qué es Shibari?

Esta entrada también está disponible en: Spanish

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